Book Group

Monday, February 12th, 5:30pm

January 12, 1888 began as an unseasonably warm morning across Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Minnesota so that children walked to school without coats and gloves.  That afternoon, without warning, the sky exploded in a storm of raging horizontal snow and hurricane force winds.  Temperatures plunged as an unprecedented cold front ripped through the center of the continent.

By Friday morning, January 13, some five hundred people lay dead on the drifted prairie, many of them children who had perished on their way home from school.  Recent immigrants from Germany, Norway, Denmark, and the Ukraine learned that their free homestead was not a paradise but a hard, unforgiving place governed by natural forces beyond their control.

The Children’s Blizzard captures this storm by tracing the stories of five families who were forever changed that day.  David Laskin draws on family interviews and memoirs, as well as contemporary accounts to create an intimate picture of the men, women and children fighting the storm while he creates a thorough account of the evolution of the storm and the struggle of government forecasters to track its progress.